Thermik Gerätebau: Pioneers of Modern Thermal Protectors

Thermik Gerätebau: Pioneers of Modern Thermal Protectors

Daniel Hall 19/04/2024
Thermik Gerätebau: Pioneers of Modern Thermal Protectors

How does progress happen? The history of Thermik Gerätebau provides an impressive answer.

A pioneering spirit and inventiveness paved the way from a tinkerer's workshop to the world market leader for thermal protectors. Partner and Managing Director Marcel P. Hofsaess provides exciting insights into how innovation is anchored in the corporate culture and how a product made in Germany is used worldwide.


In Demand Worldwide: Thermal Protectors From Germany

Where the wind drives powerful generators, they work in the background. Anyone charging their electric car can feel safe thanks to them. And they even protect you from danger when blow-drying your hair. We are talking about thermal protectors. These are small, rather inconspicuous electrical components that can save lives. They ensure that electrical appliances switch off automatically if there is a risk of overheating. They only switch the power on again when it is safe to do so. They are used worldwide in this function - and most of them are developed in Germany. Thermik Gerätebau is the world market leader for thermal protectors and thermistors. Over three billion of its components are in use around the world. They are manufactured by more than 900 employees on three continents.

Innovation Secures the Competitive Edge

The figures are impressive - but the foundation for the continued success of the specialists from Sondershausen is laid by the in-house development department. Marcel P. Hofsaess explains how strong the inventive spirit is in comparison to Thermik's competitors: "The protection of innovation through patents and industrial property rights also gives Thermik a technological edge over others. This is also demonstrated by the fact that Thermik holds more international patents and property rights in total than all of its competitors put together."

Innovation has always been closely linked to the history of Thermik. Company founder Peter Hofsaess - just like his son Marcel - was a visionary and innovator. From 1968, he built fusible links in Pforzheim, which he continuously developed further. The decisive impulse was the switch to thermal protectors in 1973, when the W1000 was manufactured for the first time in a 2-disc design and was therefore flatter than competitor products. It also solved numerous problems associated with other geometries, such as current self-heating in bimetallic switches - and so the success story began. It has been continued since 1992 by Marcel P. Hofsaess, who registered his first patent in 1993. Over 1,000 more have followed to date.

Product Innovations From Thermik: a Small Selection

There are numerous variants and special developments in the field of modern thermal protectors. A look at Thermik's product range shows the different requirements that the company solves with its components - and again demonstrates the pioneering spirit of the developers. In 1995, for example, the P1 was launched, the first closed hybrid switch for in-winding applications. It can be used to fulfil special safety requirements. The P1 means that the appliance must first be disconnected from the mains before it can be switched back into operation. Thermik realises this technically with a PTC heating resistor above the bimetallic switching mechanism.

One development that was brought to series production just before the turn of the millennium is the fully automatic thermal protectors. The M1 is the first of its kind in which all work steps are fully automated. There is another interesting aspect to this development. Towards the end of the 1990s, various competitors formed an alliance to take market share away from Thermik. By consistently developing technical innovations that are unique on the market thanks to patent protection, the German company succeeded in increasing its sales in return.

In addition to the innovative spirit, customers appreciate Thermik's quality awareness. The quality of the products is also repeatedly confirmed by independent laboratories: "As part of regular benchmark analyses by neutral scientific laboratories, such as the Fraunhofer Institute, the quality of Thermik products is compared with that of other competitors. So far, Thermik has always performed better than other competitors, and by a large margin. The basis for these quality comparison tests was always the respective product data and the associated maximum load tests. These tests illustrate that most competitors do not even reach the self-declared performance limits of their products, whereas this is consistently the case with Thermik products," explains Marcel P. Hofsaess.

Customised Developments as a Special Service

The innovation path described refers to products that are available from Thermik as standard. In addition, the company offers a further level of pioneering work, namely customised developments. In fact, numerous electrical appliance manufacturers such as BOSCH and Kärcher rely on exclusive products from Thermik. These are created according to specific customer requirements and fulfil highly specialised demands. The advantages are obvious: "Through such developments, individual customers try to gain corresponding market advantages over their competitors, for example by making the thermal protectors to be applied either more powerful or rationalising them to the customer's production processes," explains Marcel P. Hofsaess.

In this context, Thermik shares an important characteristic with other market leaders in their respective industries - courage. Courage to push ahead with new developments and leave the beaten track. Marcel P. Hofsaess summarises this core idea: "Courage comes before success. Only then is it possible to make progress." This courage was also evident, for example, in 1990, the year of reunification - in fact, shortly before the new federal states joined the Federal Republic. It was in this year that Thermik founded its branch in the GDR. The decision proved to be absolutely right, as it enabled a strong upswing in the following years. However, it also required courage and entrepreneurial vision at the time. The pandemic years from 2020 onwards also demonstrated the importance of forward-looking corporate management. The enormous challenges of these times are well known: Supply bottlenecks, production stoppages, material shortages ... Despite all the adversity, Thermik was able to generate an increase in turnover and once again set itself apart from the competition.

Modern Thermal Protectors: A Future-Oriented Component

Today, Thermik Gerätebau is one of the top 100 most innovative medium-sized companies in Germany. In 2021, Thermik was one of the top 10 achievers in the ranking of the 10,000 most important German companies, chosen by the association DDW (Die Deutsche Wirtschaft). And what's next? The next innovations are already on the horizon. They are urgently needed, for example in one of the most important and largest growth markets of all, "green energy". Wind turbines, solar power systems, voltage transformers - none of them would be safe without modern thermal protectors. Added to this is the high efficiency of Thermik's developments, combined with a long service life. Marcel Hofsaess emphasises: "As a rule, developments have very long product life cycles of over 20 years. This means that Thermik also sets new standards in terms of ecological and economic sustainability.

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Daniel Hall

Business Expert

Daniel Hall is an experienced digital marketer, author and world traveller. He spends a lot of his free time flipping through books and learning about a plethora of topics.

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